packaging, part two

The packaging crowd-sourcing project I mentioned last week has been really fascinating and useful.

Some wonderful women (all women, yeah!) have sent in photos of their chocolates (and the occasional curious cat and grumpy tot in the background) and I’ve studied them carefully. The consensus is: better packaging is totes needed–but really only with the Big Assortment boxes. Good to know. (We’re also going to put a small candy pad on top of the Bonbons boxes, to prevent them from jumping all over the place.

Here’s my next idea, courtesy of my sweetheart (who was once an engineering major in college, before he swiftly switched to music. Somehow those 2 semesters mean that I always consult “my engineer” about all tactical problems.): dividers!

Like this (click to enlarge!):

Looks nice, no?

Let’s see how it goes. If you get a Big Assortment (just the mixed one linked to above, not the truffle big assortment— that one packs like a dream since all the truffles are the same size), the same deal applies as before:

If you’d be so kind as to take nice good photos of your chocolate order, then send them to me at chef@lagustasluscious.com, I’ll make a note to either (your choice):

  • Slip two chocolate bars into a padded envelope to send to you ASAP as a thank-you

OR

  • Send you a free box ($12 or $15 box of your choice) with your next chocolate order, as long as you order within six months or so, because otherwise the paperwork to remember the freebies would get annoying.

 

(As of this time, the previous plan, of free chocolate with photos of any order, is discontinued. Thanks for your help!)

Thank you, thank you!

 

BEHOLD!!!!!!

Oh my darlings.

SO much happened yesterday, what with me signing my name seemingly hundreds of times and then watching congratulations roll in on my own Facebook page and the Bonbons page, that I forgot to update the this here blog with THE BIG NEWS!

SO BIG!

Are you ready?

After 11 months of finagling, my sweetheart and I just closed on this fine wreck of a building in New Paltz! Just 15 minutes by bike from my house (three by car), this sad sack sweetheart needs some TLC, but around the end of May or so you’re cordially invited to the grand opening of the new LL HQ! It’s going to be our fabulous fabrication space plus a tiny little candy counter/chocolate shop, with maybe some savories sprinkled in too (homemade tempeh? croissants? maybe! maybe!).

(Buying the building was a real ordeal. If you want to read 3,000 words about my external and external struggles with it, here they are!)

I’ll be blogging a bit about the renovation process so you can share my joy/frustration/aggravation, too. Lots of before and after photos coming soon…

Take a deep breath! As my old Australian housemate, a male model named Peter with the bluest eyes and sweetest soul you’ve ever seen, used to say, “IT’S ALL HAPPENING, LG!” (he called me LG. Australians and their nicknames, you know?)

Yeah!

brunch: french toast + potatoes and onions

I had a few beloved out-of-town visitors up to see the gorgeous upstate New York sights this weekend. They came at a perfect time, because I’m trying to distract myself from stressing out about this BIG GIANT HUGE INSANE thing happening tomorrow (check back here tomorrow for the update!!!!), so I decided to distract myself the best way I know how: cooking.

I decided to make a little brunch for us.

At first it was just going to be this french toast that I make almost every time I have sleepover guests–especially ones that aren’t vegan, because I enjoy how much nonvegans tell me that it tastes like “real” french toast. But then I realized I had a whole bunch of potatoes sprouting away in the back room at work, and I needed to test out some matzo candy for work (coming soon!) and I had just made a truly giant pot of beans, and off we were.

I know it breaks all laws of food blogging to not include a photo with a recipe, but I think my pal Cesilie took a whole bunch of photos with her fancy camera, so I’ll update this post when I get ’em. For now I wanted to share my somewhat of a work-in-progress (aren’t they all, always?) french toast recipe. Let me know what you think!

Oh, and after much trial and error, I think I’ve perfected my taters & onions recipe. Here goes: parboil the potatoes. This is the key. Cut them into bite-sized pieces, boil in salted water (or roast, in their jackets!) until just barely tender but not as soft as you’d want them to eat them, then caramelize a bunch of onions and toss the potatoes with them, add a few good pinches of paprika/smoked paprika/chile powder/chili powder (your pick), sea salt, lots of pepper, and lots of olive oil. Then roast at 400°F or so until they are deliciously crispy and browned. Today I tossed them with some amazing roasted Hatch chiles I had, and…oh man, so good.

As was the:

FRENCH TOAST

1/4  cup chickpea flour. Bob’s Red Mill makes a chickpea flour, and it’s also available (usually cheaper) in Indian markets, where it might be labeled “besan” or “gram flour.” You could also use rice flour, tapioca starch, or egg replacer powder, but I like chickpea the best

1 cup coconut milk or Soy Nog. Around the holidays when Soy Nog is available, I use that, otherwise I’m a coco milk fan.

Peasant bread, sourdough bread, French or Italian bread, thickly sliced. Basically any kind of nice spongy bread with a relatively open crumb (not a super artisanal baguette that’s more air than bread, for example). Not a bread with a tight crumb, like 11-grain, or a fake bread, like Wonderbread or anything.)

1/4 teaspoon eggnog flavoring, optional

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Nutmeg to taste

Cinnamon to taste, 1/2 teaspoon or so

Coconut oil or grape seed oil, for frying

For serving: powdered sugar, maple syrup, coconut cream (I use my little iSi whip to make instant coconut milk whipped cream and it is AMAZING.), strawberries, etc.

  1. Whisk together all ingredients except bread and oil. (I like to do this the night before. The batter is smoother if allowed to sit overnight, too.)
  2. Dip bread in liquid, then fry in hot oil until golden brown on both sides.
  3. Serve with maple syrup, coco cream, powdered sugar, etc.

I just realized I have no notes on how much it makes. Hmm, maybe 8 pieces or so? I’ll let you know the next time I make it!

packaging solutions (FREE CHOCOLATE)

Chocolates are a great thing to sell if you’re an out-of-control OCD freak.

They really lend themselves to that sensibility, what with their myriad needs: meltiness, fragility, perishability, tininess.

However, they are not such a great thing to sell if you are a hardcore environmental activist who worries endlessly about the huge amount of packaging materials needed to solve the above problems filling up landfills until the end of time.

I happen to be a combination of both, which means that I worry about packaging pretty much non-stop.

Here are some random thoughts on the Lagusta’s Luscious packaging world. If you slog your way through this, there is a free gift for you at the end!

OK, you have to do more than read, you have to take photos of your orders and send them to me, but…just keep reading. FREE CHOCOLATE!

So here’s the deal.

The bonbons are packaged in GLORIOUS custom boxes that, I think, fit them pretty snugly. We measured everything like a zillion times to make sure they would pack nice and tight. The boxes are also insanely eco-friendly—they’re biodegradable, because they are printed with soy inks and recycled paper. I put one in my compost last fall and it had disappeared in two months. They’re tied with vegetable-cellulose ribbon that’s also compostable. Super rad.

(Oh, and the gift wrap [seen in the photo at the top] is also made of recycled paper and tied with a vegetable cellulose black grosgrain ribbon!)

The truffles, most Chocolates of the Month, and the anatomical hearts (as of yet not online, but—secret trick!—if you want to order a box, just order a box of truffles, {they’re the same price} and in the “instructions to sender” box write that you want the hearts instead!) are packed in bleached white boxes. Sigh. They are recyclable, but that’s about it. My goal is to get custom boxes printed up for them, but these days all my extra business income is being funneled into a GIANT HUGE PROJECT I might be able to announce next week or so (!!!!!!), and this means that we’ll have to live with the regular white boxes for, realistically, probably a year or so, considering how long it takes to get custom boxes designed, printed and…um…saved-up for.

Perhaps needless to say, a printed-out sticker for those heart boxes is coming soon, because MY HANDS CAN'T TAKE IT ANY MORE.

I think the white boxes take pretty good care of their contents, however. We pack them with a lot of these little cushiony quilted paper pads (OK, they are called “candy pads.” Go ahead and laugh, it’s OK). They mean that we don’t have to do what every other chocolate company I’ve ever seen does and put one of those plastic divider trays into the box. (It also means we can fit more chocos in a smaller box!). The candy pads work pretty well, but if any of you geniuses out there have other ideas on how to pack eco-friendly, food-safe, shipping-safe boxes, I’d love to hear them.

The Big Assortment boxes are packed in larger white boxes, and these are somewhat of a fiasco. Because they are assortments and thus contain chocolates of different heights, they are hard to pack. I think I’ve come up with a good solution, but it involves three big giant candy pads, which adds up to a lot of bleached white padding stuff.

Still, it’s much, much less waste than if we used plastic trays.

Now, one solution to this would be to make chocolates that are not so fragile.

Most other dark chocolate peanut butter cups I’ve ever seen have super thick shells that mean you can basically toss them against a wall and they won’t break (they might break your teeth if they are cold, however. Also, it’s not very sanitary to be eating chocolate you’ve thrown against a wall.). (Or the chocolate shells are “chocolate” made with so many preservatives that they have no snap to them at all, and contain precious little actual chocolate.) Ours have (or, at least, strive to have) gossamer thin shells that instantly yield to your warm mouth. I prefer this gustatory experience—impossibly thin shells are the ne plus ultra of a bonbon to me, and I won’t settle for anything less.

That’s fine, but it means we’re stuck wrapping them like glass.

The other solution we use, in addition to candy pads, is to use a lot of padding in the outer box. Sometimes people complain about it, even though it’s all either reused (upcycled, if you prefer) or completely eco-friendly (seriously, you can eat those cornstarch packing peanuts. I ate one last week. [it was a dare, OK?]).

In my mind, everyone can always use packaging materials (hey and if you live locally, you’re more than welcome to bring them back to me. Then again, if you live locally, why are we shipping your chocolates?), but no one wants to pay for broken and smashed and smooshed chocolates. Whenever I decide we’re overpacking and decide to take a chance with shipping in smaller boxes with less packaging materials, like this smallish box:

this happens:

The physical pain this photo causes me is intense and awful, and truly, I would do almost anything to not have this pain ever again.

(Here is what they are supposed to look like.)

The Post Office is a mean mistress, chocolate lovers! She often does not listen to fragile stickers! (Or….sometimes we forget to put them on because we’re rushing like maniacs because it’s 4:50 and the PO closes in 10 minutes and it’s a 3 minute drive away and WHY WON’T THE PRINTER PRINT THE LABELS? COME ON, PRINTER!)

So until you can all move to New Paltz and buy chocolates from us directly, we’re going to be trying to find a balance between eco-friendliness and chocolate intact-ness. In the next few weeks we’re going to be tinkering around with our packaging solutions, and you, being the one receiving the packaging, can help us tremendously in this.

Here’s the deal (it involves FREE CHOCOLATE):

If you take nice good photos of your chocolate order, then send them to me at chef@lagustasluscious.com, I’ll make a note to either (your choice):

  • Slip two chocolate bars into a padded envelope to send to you ASAP as a thank-you

OR

  • Send you a free box ($12 or $15 box of your choice) with your next chocolate order, as long as you order within six months or so, because otherwise the paperwork to remember the freebies would get annoying.

Sound like a plan? Crowd-sourcing, here we go! And needless to say, if your chocolates arrive looking like those above, we’ll definitely make it right.

Thank you!!!

xoxo

Lagusta

February 2011 Chocolate of the Month

Where do all the Chocolate of the Months go when the month is over?

There is an archive page where my brilliant web guru, Erin, puts up a small snapshot of all the previous chocolates, but I want to remember them in all their many photo’d, overly prose’d glory. So, in the next few days I’m going to be putting up blog posts with details of the previous CotMs for posterity. Sound good?

Let’s kick things off with February!

The giant photo album of gorgeous photos of this month’s chocolate is online here—really, it’s worth a gawk.

February 2011 Chocolate of the Month: Valentine’s Bonbons

Here we are: the hot pink bullseye at the middle of the chocolate year. For this special Valentine’s month, I wanted to create a chocolate box that would encompass everything I know about love. Thus, this box represents what I see as the two key aspects of love. The sweet simple heart shape is filled with rosewater (dairy-free) cream, punctuated with a high note of pomegranate. It’s smooth and sweet as a Sunday stroll with the love of your life. This chocolate represents those beautiful, perfect, simple days where love makes you feel utterly content, adored, and safe. Nice. Fun. Cute. All that good stuff.

The anatomical heart, on the other hand, is the equally beautiful but often bloody and wild side of love: the kind of love that leaves your heart pounding, your pulse racing–an almost out-of-control intensity that can be a little terrifying, but is deeply healthy in the long run. This represents the kind of love that reminds you you’re alive in the deepest sense, for the times when your heart is raw and feels like it’s beating on the outside of your body. This is an intense bonbon. It’s a solid chocolate made with 66% dark chocolate, packed with lightly crushed cacao nibs, locally-roasted coffee beans, black salt enriched with volcanic minerals, and crunchy bits of bright dried cherries. It’s painted with red-tinted cocoa butter that’s colored with an all-natural beet juice-based food coloring, because while love does sometimes hurt, it shouldn’t have anything to do with anything fake–especially artificial food coloring.

kitchen for rent!

To be frank: electricity and propane bills at the kitchen (and, for that matter, at my house) are eating me alive. And since I’m only doing chocolates these days and not the meal delivery as well, I’m not at work every day (yay!). So, I’m looking to share my kitchen 1-3 days a week with a like-minded business. If you know anyone, please pass this info along. Contact me at chef@lagustasluscious.com if you’re interested!

The kitchen details:

  • The kitchen is in Rosendale, NY, on route 32.
  • It consists of one large room, one office, one bathroom, and one back room for storage.
  • Ample parking
  • The kitchen is fully licensed with the NYS Ag and Markets department (it’s licensed under my business though).
  • Two a/c units
  • Wall propane heating unit
  • Three ovens, one a super sweet pizza oven
  • Four gas burners
  • Dishwasher and three-sink
  • Pots and pans, bowls and all kinds of utensils you can use.
  • Vita-mix blender, Cuisinart, standing mixer, all kinds of machines.
  • Food storage containers large and small
  • Walk-in fridge with speed rack with pans
  • Three freezers
  • Wifi
  • Butcher block cutting board table
  • Full fire suppression system
  • 100% eco-friendly cleaning supplies

I am:

  • Neat and tidy! Everything in its place, a place for everything.
  • Flexible with my schedule–hooray for working for myself! I try to take Sundays off.
  • Entirely vegan, as is the kitchen.

You are:

  • Neat and tidy! Everything in its place, a place for everything.
  • Looking to rent a kitchen for 1-3 days a week. Days are flexible, but Sunday would be ideal.
  • Run a vegan or vegetarian food business.

Rent: $75 per 24 hours.

So cheap!!

Interested? Contact me at chef@lagustasluscious.com.

Rethinking dairy from a vegan point of view

Here we go! My dairy manifesto!

This essay was written in 2007 for inclusion in this cookbook put out by the restaurant where I worked for many years, Bloodroot Feminist Vegetarian restaurant, in Bridgeport. CT.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think!

Part One: Rethinking Dairy

Westerners have been using the milk of other animals for many years in our cuisine, but I see this as an accident of geography, not desirability – cows were here, so we used them. Now that other choices are available to us, I see no reason why we should continue to use the milk of other animals, especially when it has been widely documented that producing milk causes considerable strain on animals. Yes, high-quality dairy products – minimally pasteurized (sometimes even raw or fermented), humanely produced – are becoming more available, and many will see this as a step in the right direction. But for those of us who believe that (to paraphrase Alice Walker) animals were put here for their own reasons[1], dairy is not an option.

Throughout my nearly two decades years on the vegan path, my thinking about dairy has evolved. Like many vegans, I found dairy the hardest food to give up. I have come to believe, however, that this is mostly because we’re used to it and excellent vegan alternatives to popular dairy dishes do not widely exist. If they did, undoubtedly many more people would be amenable to eating non-dairy meals. Out of habit, we use cow’s milk, but this does not mean that it is the best choice (ample evidence shows that it is, in fact, a terrible choice[2]).

What if, for example, coconut palm trees were as plentiful in North America as cows in factory farms are? It seems to me that in that case, our cakes and cookies and all manner of foods would use coconut milk, and that would be thought of as the natural choice. Since my ethics preclude me from using cow’s milk, the versatile coconut has worked its way into my cooking more and more, and I now believe it is the ideal candidate to replace cow’s (and goat’s and sheep’s) milk altogether. This essay is the result of my studies on the topic, and before discussing the merits of the coconut, I will counter three possible negative assumptions about its use as a primary “dairy.”

The coconut is not perfect. Obviously, eating what is indigenous to a particular area is preferable not only for environmental reasons, but because it is better for the body. For most of us in the United States, coconuts are not indigenous, and cows, while not native, are at least more local. Moreover, coconut milk comes in cans, and canned food cannot be said to have the same vitality as fresh food, not to mention the waste issue.

However, even acknowledging these issues, coconut milk is a better choice than cow’s milk. Olives don’t grow in Connecticut, but we at Bloodroot rely on olive oil on a daily basis. Cow’s milk does not come from the soil and is not a truly seasonal product, thus using coconut milk in place of it does not make a negative impact in either our planetary or personal health. Yes, coconut milk comes in cans, but it is widely available organic and without any additives except a small amount of guar gum (a vegetarian emulsifier). It is heated to high temperatures as part of the canning process, but so is the vast quantity of milk on our shelves. Perhaps as the popularity of coconut milk grows, it will be available fresh in health food stores for cooking purposes.

It might seem that nominating the coconut for the title of Best Dairy Replacement is futile, as that crown has already been awarded: most vegans use soy milk in all ways that dairy milk is usually used. However, at Bloodroot we have found soymilk to have a beany and rather overly plastic flavor that we do not enjoy, and the comparatively long list of ingredients in soymilk does not compare favorably with coconut milk’s three ingredients (two if you do not count water). As well, it seems that, in a desire for oversimplification that the (increasingly corporatized) natural foods industry has fallen prey to, the fact that soy has health benefits has been overused as a marketing tool and most health-conscious people eat far too much soy, especially processed, lifeless soy products.

Finally, one more potential flaw of the coconut should be discussed: it tastes like coconut. While most of the time this is a positive aspect, as the flavor of coconut is divine, when it is used in all the same ways cow’s milk is used there is a danger of “over-coconutization.” Again, perspective is essential: most milk drinkers might not be able to pick out the flavor of milk in a dish, but this is because of its ubiquity and not because milk itself lacks flavor.  To some, cow’s milk vanilla ice cream tastes like vanilla; to most long-time vegans it would taste like cow’s milk. That said, I do not make vegan vanilla ice cream using coconut milk, because I have to acknowledge that it would be coconut-vanilla ice cream.

However, the flavor of coconut does back down when paired with strong flavors. My chocolate truffles use coconut milk instead of cream, and the chocolate is so intense that the coconut is not noticeable. At Bloodroot we make chocolate, coffee, and many other ice cream flavors using coconut milk as a base, and the coconut is not the primary flavor. To our palates, coconut has a cleaner flavor than soy or rice milk, and a more rich texture than nut milks.

The fat content of the coconut is a primary reason it is an ideal vegan product. I have found that most less-than-delicious vegan desserts are so because of a lack of fat, which contributes a mouth feel that cannot be replicated. Balanced vegan diets do not usually need to be concerned with fat, and the fats found in coconut are not unhealthy (this aspect is discussed below). Compared with soy, rice, or nut milks, coconut milk has more fat and is therefore much more tasty and makes desserts (as well as savories – see the recipe for Mushroom Stroganoff, for example) more satisfying. In ice creams as well as many other dishes, it also contributes a vastly improved texture. Fat (along with sugar and alcohol) prevents ice cream from freezing too hard, so coconut milk-based ice creams have a texture much more like that of similar dishes made with dairy cream.

It is at this point that a rather parenthetical discussion of “real” vs. “vegan” foods becomes relevant.

Sometimes well-meaning tasters of my vegan chocolate truffles proclaim them “just as good as ‘real’ truffles.” I always want to ask them: are they invisible? Cow’s milk is popular, but it has not staked a claim on reality to such an extent that any other milk must be deemed an impostor. Soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, and all manner of nut and seed milks have been used in many cultures for hundreds of years, and it reveals a Western bias to reduce them to the category of imitations. Let’s stop comparing vegan dishes with “real” versions, and start comparing them to “cow’s milk” versions (and then let’s stop the comparisons all together).

Another coconut product is perhaps even more exciting for vegans is coconut oil (also called coconut butter).

Many people have a negative impression of coconut oil because it is a saturated fat (it is solid at room temperature).   However, it does not pose a problem for those who do not consume an excess of fat and/or cholesterol since more than half of it is composed of medium-chain fatty acids, which are used as energy and not stored as fat.  Coconut oil does not contain toxic trans-fatty acids found in hydrogenated vegetable oils, which have been found to contribute to heart disease.  Therefore, remarkably, this most luscious and luxuriously fatty food is not used as fat in the body but works as instantly available energy.

In addition, unlike most vegetable fats which are unsaturated and prone to  destabilizing reactions with oxygen, coconut oil is highly stable and has a high smoke point. This is important because in order to get the nice caramelized brown color that makes vegetarian food so much more satisfying, oil must be heated very hot. When oil is heated, it can burn and become carcinogenic. Because coconut oil has a high smoke point, it is less likely to burn and thus much healthier than less saturated fats for searing, sautéing, and pan- and deep-frying. That this saturated fat is our best choice for frying seems to run counter to the general wisdom that unsaturated oils such as olive oil are always best for our health.  It is important to keep in mind that the health benefits of unsaturated fats are only valid when those oils are stable, and for high heat frying, coconut oil provides a healthy alternative.

In addition to not being harmful, coconut oil has an important positive effect on the vegetarian body: it is one of the only vegetarian sources of lauric acid, which enhances brain function and the immune system and has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties and is therefore beneficial for those with compromised immune systems.[3]

If you have the resources and want to use the very best coconut oil available, buy organic Omega Nutrition brand. It is, to my knowledge available via mail order and is sold in some health food stores. It is packaged in dark plastic containers (like flax seed oil), which helps prevent it from becoming rancid, and is available at omeganutrition.com and 1-800-661-FLAX (3529). Do not buy the raw “virgin” type, as it is undeodorized and tastes too coconutty and raw for cooking.

Now that you’ve bought your oil, a primer on the best way to use it is in order. For vegans looking for a butter substitute, coconut oil is perfect in all applications (except possibly for spreading on toast and the like), and its fatty richness excels in baked goods. When replacing coconut oil for butter, shortening, or lard in recipes, the amount can be reduced by 25 percent (which is good news considering how expensive coconut oil is) because it is almost pure fat, in comparison butter and others, which contain significant percentages of moisture and/or milk solids.

Because coconut oil is solid at room temperature, in cooler climates it can be melted prior to measuring, which makes it a little easier to work with. Otherwise, it can be measured, packed down, in dry (flat-topped) measuring cups. If there are a lot of air pockets in the cup the measurement could be off by a significant amount, so either pack it well or add grapeseed or another neutral oil to fill up the cracks (even better, use recipes that call for weights!). Store coconut oil at room temperature.

Part Two: Resistance is Fertile

The “coconut dairy” is an idea borne from the need for a new way of thinking about vegan food. Once we move beyond worrying about replicating animal products and using any means possible (chemical-laced margarines, etc) to get there, we can begin to explore the creative possibilities of vegan cuisine. This process – the creativity that results from immersion in an “alternative” culture like this – is typified by the phrase “resistance is fertile.”

A recent novel we have been enjoying at Bloodroot is Ruth Ozeki’s All Over Creation. Some of the characters in the book use “resistance is fertile” as a slogan. This sums up my own explorations in cooking from a political standpoint. I became vegan because I felt that if I could live without causing others to suffer, I had the moral duty to do so. For several years I was proud to be living my political beliefs on a daily basis in this way, but I was deeply unhappy with the food I was eating. I believed that making the choice to stop eating animals was enough – eating French fries at every meal and iceberg lettuce salads and “healthy candy bars” didn’t matter, as long as they were vegan.

Slowly (thanks in large part to the women of Bloodroot) I came to have a more nuanced view of the politics of food. I saw that most food, even most food in health food stores, travels many hundreds of miles and is distributed by large agri-business corporations who often have political views I do not share (discrimination against lesbians and gay men, pro-globalization politics, exploitative marketing practices in “developing countries,” etc). I came to develop what Mary Daly calls a “biophilic” point of view, from “biophilia,” meaning “love of life.” Whereas I originally became vegan out of opposition to one practice (keeping and killing animals), I began to cultivate a philosophy of food with a wider progressive agenda. I saw that we could have a huge positive environmental impact by supporting local farmers, eating seasonally, and gardening. And of course, local, seasonal food tastes much better. Today I feel that the quality of my food – the way it is grown, the way the workers who pick and process it are treated, the distance it travels, even down to the packaging it is shipped in – is just as important as whether or not it is vegan. When vegetarians and vegans limit our politics to the realm of animal rights, we are doing ourselves a disservice. If Bloodroot has taught us anything in its almost three decades of existence, it is that feminism, progressive politics, animal rights, and environmentalism work best when they work together.

This is what “resistance is fertile” means to me. The Bloodroot atmosphere is fertile – women are teaching other women how to spin and knit, the air is laced with onions and garlic frying, books are being bought and discussed, the garden is teeming with gorgeous green little treasures. It is a site of resistance to the culture of violence and mediocrity that is the mainstream world. The more deeply I incorporate this culture of resistance into my life and work, the more fertile my life becomes – opportunities open up, creativity flourishes, hope is rekindled. In order to create the world we want to live in, we have to be able to imagine it.  Resistance is fertile.


[1] “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men.”

[2] See, for example, The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, or Diet for a New America, by John Robbins. When one also notes that 70 percent of African-Americans, 95 percent of Native Americans, 60 percent of Hispanic-Americans, and 90 percent of Asian-Americans are lactose intolerant (source: John Robbins), the USDA recommendation that all children drink milk every day seems not only unhealthy, but also culturally insensitive.

[3] Coconut oil is a good choice for frying, but expensive. The other oil we tend to use for frying and browning foods is grapeseed oil. It is not unrefined, but has a very high smoke point (485°F), is not genetically modified and is high in vitamin E. Make sure the grapeseed oil you are using is a by-product of the wine industry, otherwise it could be heavily sprayed with pesticides. Chemically treated grapeseed oil is dangerous because chemical toxins are concentrated in a plant’s fatty acids and a plant’s fatty acids are concentrated in its seeds.